Stay-at-Home Seven: December 13 to 19

Films to catch on TV and streaming services this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Sam Rockwell in Moon
Sam Rockwell in Moon
Moon, Great Movies (Freeview Channel 33), 9pm Tuesday, December 14

Duncan Jones' debut centres on Sam Bell - an astronaut at the end of a three-year solo mission to harvest Helium-3 energy from the Moon. He begins to think he may be losing it just as he is on the verge of being sent home to his family - but soon he becomes convinced that his paymasters may have a more sinister agenda. It is hard to talk too much about Rockwell's performance without spoiling a key element of the plot but it allows him to show the full extent of his range. The focus is on plot rather than special effects but the ones that are used are seamless. As Jones told us: "We found an approach that allowed Sam to be his improvisational best, while still making sure I got the technical discipline I needed." Read our full review.

Mud, Netflix, from Wednesday

Jeff Nichols' 2013 film sees two teenagers try to reunite a fugitive with his long-term love. It marked something of a turning point for Matthew McConaughey, who had a serious run of good films after this, including Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf Of Wall Street and Magic Mike. Here he plays Mud, an offbeat charmer who befriends teenagers Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who, in turn, try to help the course of true love run smooth - with unintended consequences. A coming-of-age tale that is less about the loss of innocence than the gaining of knowledge, this is a modern descendant of Mark Twain's Huck Finn. Read our full review here.

How To Train Your Dragon, 3.25pm, Film4, Friday, December 17

This first instalment of the DreamWorks trilogy about a young viking who forges an unlikely friendship is by far the best. Teenager Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) starts to think the forever war his viking settlement's adults are waging with dragons might not be the best way forward after discovering one of the creatures injured in the woods. There's plenty of smart observational comedy about what it means to be a teenager confronted with an adult world of recalcitrance in the script to lift above its more formulaic elements, while the dragon flight scenes deliver the adventurous goods. Read our full review.

Late Night, 11.25pm, BBC1, Friday, December 17

Powered by the dual fuel of Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, this snappy comedy tells the tale of British talk show host Katherine Newbury (Thompson) who is on the brink of losing her job. As she tries to steady the ship a new woman on her staff the super-keen but naive Molly (Kaling) finds herself trying to handle her boss's cutting attitude and the rest of the all-male staff. Thompson, as ever, steals the show here, whether she's cutting people dead with one-liners or bringing Katherine's softer side to light in lovely worked scenes with John Lithgow, playing it straight, as her husband. The plot may be familiar but with Thompson and Kaling front and centre it still feels fresh. Read our full review.

Sightseers, 2.15am, Film 4, Saturday, December 18

You'll never look at a knitting pattern in quite the same way again after watching Ben Wheatley's dark tale of a caravaning couple who go on a killing spree. The frumpy and downtrodden Tina (Alice Lowe) is the last person you'd expect to turn murderous, which makes it all the more deliciously funny when, thanks to her new boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram), she does. Filled with potshots at the sort of passive aggressiveness small town Britain excels in - and a good dollop of gore - this is a bloody, and bloody funny treat. Read our full review.

Memory: The Origins Of Alien, Film4, 1.30am Sunday, December 19

You can't ask for a safer pair of hands to take a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of a film than Alexandre O Philippe, whose 78/52 dissected the shower scene in Psycho with a precision Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud of. He takes a broader approach to Ridley Scott's seminal science-fiction film, although he uses John Hurt's "chest burst" scene as its lynchpin. Philippe traces connections in the film all the way back to the Greek Furies and a lot more besides as he considers the influences on HR Giger in terms of design, plus offers plenty of on-set anecdotes - achieving the impressive feat of making his discoveries understandable for newcomers and detailed enough for existing fans. Read our full review.

The Little Shop Of Horrors, pluto.tv

Though you may be more familiar with this story in its colourful, musical, Rick Moranis-starring adaptation but this black and white earlier incarnation of the tale of a man (Jonathan Haze) and his blood-thirsty plant has charms of its own. Among its selling points is Jack Nicholson in one of his earliest roles as the maniacal dentist - played in the later version by Steve Martin. More sinister in tone and darker in its treatment of its quasi-Mephistophelean pact themes than its successor, if not quite as polished, Roger Corman's film also stands the test of time. Read our full review.

Our short this week is a reminder that music videos have long been the home of good storytelling. This one, for North of Ping Pong's What Goes Up Must Come Down stars Charlie Creed-Miles and is directed by Adam Smith, who has gone on to forge an eclectic career including everything from The Chemical Brothers to Little Dorrit.

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